Friday, April 12, 2019

Pulling Out the Rugg (Curriculum)

Photograph of Harold O. Rugg with some of his publications
Given that we're a library, we are naturally biased towards librarians. We've mentioned former Dartmouth librarian Harold G. Rugg, member of the class of 1906, several times before. However, today we're going to take a different tack and talk about at Harold O. Rugg, a member of the class of 1908. Rugg graduated from Dartmouth with a B.S., which he followed a year later with a degree in civil engineering from Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering. He then worked for the Missouri Public Railroad before going to the University of Illinois to teach in their engineering department.

This story sounds like that of many other alumni: get a degree from Dartmouth, then possibly complete a grad degree, and then land a respectable upper-middle-class industry job. However, during his time at Illinois, Rugg departed from this well-trodden path. It was there that he began working on a PhD in sociology and education, primarily because of his fascination with the quantification of the learning process and how it works. From there, Rugg went on to serve with his Illinois faculty advisor in World War I on a committee that was the first group to make widespread use of intelligence and aptitude tests on adults.

Pamphlet called "Rugg Philosophy Analyzed."After the war, Rugg became a faculty member at the Teachers College of Columbia University, where he began work on a social studies textbook series published in pamphlets and titled "Man and His Changing Society." The 14-book series was published between 1929 and 1940. Although initially very successful, selling over 5.5 million copies, in the early 1940s Rugg's work was labeled as subversive by various American conservative groups because it intentionally delineated the weaknesses of American society as well as the strengths. As a result, sales dropped, reactionary pamphlets outlining his philosophy were published and distributed, and there was at least one instance of an actual book-burning of Ruggs's educational series. Although Rugg's direct influence in the school system may have waned since the 1930s, he is still credited with unifying the social sciences into a cohesive curriculum.

To learn more about Harold O. Rugg '08, come to Rauner and ask to see his alumni file.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

On Translating the Divina Commedia

"James T Fields From the Translator" in Longfellow's handWe made another nice find this week in the collections. For a class on Dante in translation, we were digging around our various English language editions of Dante. The catalog record for the first printing of Longfellow's translation tipped us off that it would be something special.

Our copy was one of the first ten printed and belonged to Longfellow's publisher, James Fields. It has a little inscription "from the Translator" in one volume. That is pretty impressive, but it has a bonus feature: a holograph copy of Longfellow's sonnet, "On Translating the Divina Commedia," laid in and dated March 29, 1864. Longfellow didn't publish the poem until December of 1864, so this manuscript is an early one that he wrote out for Fields.

It shows Longfellow's stance toward Dante. He compares himself to a laborer, and Dante's work a cathedral. As he works, he stops to pray:

Oft have I seen at some cathedral-door
Text of sonnet in Longfellow's handA laborer, pausing in the dust and heat,
Lay down his burden, and with reverent feet
Enter, and cross himself, and on the floor
Kneel to repeat his pater-noster o'er;
Far off the noises of the world retreat;
The loud vociferations of the street
Become an undistinguishable roar.
So, as I enter here from day to day,
And leave my burden at this minster-gate,
Kneeling in prayer, and not ashamed to pray,
The tumult of the time disconsolate
To inarticulate murmurs dies away,
While the eternal ages watch and wait.
If you want to have your own little holy moment with Dante and Longfellow, ask for Fields 16.